Exclusive: Michael Steele Blasts Birtherism As “Unnecessary Distraction,” Says Obama Is “U.S. Citizen”
For the first time, RNC chair Michael Steele is sharply criticizing the birthers, condemning the movement as an “unnecessary distraction,” reaffirming that the president is a “U.S. citizen,” and stressing that it’s time to move past debating Obama’s “birth certificate.”
In response to my questions about Steele’s views of birtherism, which holds that Obama wasn’t born in the United States and thus isn’t legitimately the president, RNC spokesperson Gail Gitcho sent me the following statement:
“Chairman Steele believes that this is an unnecessary distraction and believes that the president is a U.S. citizen. Chairman Steele wants to move beyond this conversation and continue discussing the real and immediate concerns that face American families like the economy and health care. Americans are concerned with President Obama’s health care plan, a failed stimulus package and a ballooning deficit. Chairman Steele has many other issues to take up with the president that have to do with policy, not a birth certificate.”Steele hadn’t criticized birtherism before, his spokesperson says. His decision to do so now suggests that he recognizes that the party needs to put the birther controversy behind it at a time when some Republican officials have flirted openly with the cause advocated by this small but growing fringe.
This statement coming from the GOP’s public face and chief operative is probably the most direct condemnation of birtherism yet by a top party official. His willingness to risk the wrath of the bithers, not to mention some of the party’s more strident voices, suggests he’s aware of the damage they’re doing to the GOP, by allowing Dems to paint the party as captive to intolerants and as more interested in discussing crackpot conspiracy theories than in debating real issues.
Don't worry, I'm sure he'll be apologizing to the right wing nut jobs in due course. I give it 48 hours at most.